When it comes to land use laws, Arizona may soon be the site of a very complicated conflict. Roughly 75 miles of Arizona’s southern border extends through the middle of the Tohono O’odham Nation, a reservation that dips down into Mexico. The already features relatively low-grade fencing to delineate the border, but many members of the O’odham people venture down to Sonora, Mexico to meet with family and tribe members. Of course, one of the most publicized stories of the last couple of years in Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall across the whole southern border of the country as it meet with Mexico. This could, however, prove a difficult legal task without approval from the Tohono O’odham Nation.
According to current land use laws at the Federal level, the Bureau of Land Management is required to consult with and gain the approval of the Native American leadership for the reservation in order to make changes to the land. The leadership of the O’odham Nation have already expressed resistance to the idea of a wall being placed in the middle of their land, bisecting their territory and making it very difficult to conduct their official sovereign business.
Regardless of the complicated political issues, the conflct brings to light just how complicated land use can be. Without the approval of the O’odham Nation, President Trump may be legally unable to place the wall through the land. According to legal experts, accomplishing this without approval would require the passage of bill in Congress that essentially removes the land from the ownership of the tribe, which is legally recognized as being an autonomous government. In the absence of such a bill, and the associated public goodwill, the wall may feature a 75-mile gap.
As you can see, land use laws are not to be taken lightly, even for a the leader of the free world. If you have a land use issue, it is best to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney to help you navigate this complicated area.
Source: Herald Net, “Arizona tribe says it won’t let Trump’s wall divide its land,” Samantha Schmidt, Nov. 28, 2016